We Are Part Of The Profession

I recently read a blog from a State Society CEO that states “there are some young people who find that public accounting is not a good fit for them, and they leave the profession for financial and management roles elsewhere” (emphasis added). I could not disagree more with that statement. While I acknowledge that the most likely time for someone to leave the profession is when a person leaves public accounting and transitions to financial and management roles elsewhere, it doesn’t have to be that way. The hundreds of thousands of proud CPAs working in business, education, government and not-for-profit organizations show I am right. Unfortunately it is just the kind of myopic attitude about the profession shown in the statement above – that leaving public accounting is somehow leaving the profession – that drives many business and industry accountants to, at a minimum, not be involved in the profession or worse, truly leave it altogether.

Instead of seeing someone who is leaving public accounting as leaving the profession, we need to see them as pursuing a different career within the profession. In fact, I think that is a major advantage of the accounting profession that we should use when talking to young people about pursuing their CPA license and becoming part of the profession. We need to be telling people they can take their career in hundreds of different directions. A CPA isn’t limited to choosing between tax and audit or large or small accounting firm. A CPA can pursue a career in financial planning, become a controller or CFO (maybe even CEO), teach, or they can chose to be part of a not-for-profit that supports a cause they really believe in. And that is just a few of the careers that a person can use their skills as a CPA to succeed.

The TSCPA recognizes the benefits of keeping people in career transitions as part of the profession. In fact they have specific resources at TSCPA to help people stay in the profession when they move to a business and industry, government or education role, and they explain why it will be beneficial to them to maintain their CPA license. And of course, in today’s job and career changing world, people may decide later they want to move back into the public accounting side of the profession. The TSCPA can help with that as well with a section of the website for moves in that direction. The point is, in today’s world people are moving to jobs all over the profession and we need to make sure wherever they move they still consider being part of the profession to be a significant advantage for them in their career.

So in response to the State CEO blog, yes, it is very important that we look for ways to get more people to pursue a career as part of the CPA profession, but let’s not try to do it with one hand tied behind our back by limiting our definition of the CPA profession to only those who work in public accounting.

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